You can discover a world of wonder within the pages of a book. Reading for inspiration (rather than just information) is a simple habit that can lead you to profound experiences of awe. I’ve been passionate about reading ever since I first learned to read. As a girl, I would sneak a flashlight and a book under my bedspread at night to read after I was supposed to be asleep. I regularly wrote short pamphlets of stories and poems about my family and friends to give them personalized “books” to enjoy. When my parents took me to a library, they had a hard time getting me to leave – and when we finally left, it was with an overflowing tote bag of freshly checked out books. You probably have some wonderful memories from your own childhood of seeking adventures through books. As an adult, I continue my passion for reading. I’m always in the process of reading several books simultaneously, because I get too excited to wait to begin one book before finishing another one (I do finish all the books, though – it’s fun to complete the journey within each book). I celebrate reading with friends in my writers’ group and enjoy book-related events. Join me via YouTube for a Wake Up to Wonder mindfulness event from the Fall for the Book Festival, coming up Wednesday November 18 at 12:15 p.m.
In my book Wake Up to Wonder, I describe how teaching my children to love reading and volunteering in their school library has led me to encounter awe. I love how the children’s book author Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel) described the wondrous journey of reading in his book I Can Read with My Eyes Shut!: “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” That’s true for people of all ages! We’re inundated with information every day. So, we’re already reading plenty of information. What we need, to experience wonder regularly, is to prioritize reading for inspiration. By intentionally seeking inspiration from what we read, we train ourselves to pay attention and reflect on the messages. We can experience moments of transcendence as we ponder inspiring words. We can also apply the meaning of what we learn to our lives in positive ways that lead to wonder. Consider building time into your schedule to read for inspiration on a regular basis. As you're looking for gifts during what the beloved Christmas carol calls "the most wonderful time of the year," consider giving Wake Up to Wonder to your loved ones. Research shows that wonder enlarges our perspective, so we can see beyond our circumstances to hope. Wake Up to Wonder can bring much-needed good news to those on your Christmas list during this challenging season. The book presents a comprehensive journey toward wonder: connecting with God through prayer and meditation, managing stress well, overcoming fear, pursuing lifelong learning, using our senses, managing time well, enjoying nature, renewing our minds to experience the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control), exploring mysteries, living with purpose, and worshiping with wonder.
Many faith and well-being leaders have endorsed Wake Up to Wonder, and here are some brief excerpts from what a few of them have to say:
"What a delight to read Wake Up to Wonder. Its uplifting tone and carefully crafted words quickly alter the reader’s outlook from dismal to hope on steroids! Whitney’s deep spiritual connection to the God of wonder emerges and inspires the expectation that desirable change is possible. Penetrating personal illustrations, scriptural applications, and practical measures awaken the joy of living and loving. I’m grateful for the opportunity to immerse myself in these elevating pages and believe that God is going to use them to gift His children with wonder. I heartily endorse Wake Up to Wonder and commend it to every searching mind and heart.” - Marlene Chase, author, former Editor-in-Chief and National Literary Secretary of The Salvation Army USA
“Wake Up to Wonder is an eloquent guide full of important insights for those of us who long for more beauty and meaning to enter our lives. The vivid stories in Wake up to Wonder work as important reminders for how to experience a life filled with more awe, peace, and faith. Whitney Hopler has written a must-read book for anyone longing for more direct spiritual experiences in their lives, and the tips about the importance of meditation, prayer, and letting go of fear are timely.” - Tricia Barker, author, Angels in the OR
“Braiding personal stories – some of which had me gasp in awe – with research in a deftly woven, well-written text, Whitney tells us why her story of prayer and meditation could be ours."- Steve Gladis, Ph.D., executive team coach, leadership speaker, author, George Mason University’s Center for the Advancement of Well-Being senior scholar
"Compelling, verifiable accounts from physicians and their patients of near-death experiences reveal the magnificence of a dimension beyond our own. So now that we have thousands of credible reports of the heaven that awaits us, the next question is: How might we bring what we are learning of heaven to earth today? Whitney Hopler answers this question in her book Wake Up to Wonder. Whitney invites us to live in a state of awe while we are on earth and not only live with the intellectual awareness that God and an afterlife exist, but to bring this knowledge into everything we do by living in wonder. In these challenging days, there is so much that can distract us from the beauty of this world and how everything is infused with the Divine. Whitney’s book offers a lens for living in which all things are revealed in their beauty -- so that we can experience in everyday life the magic of the world that exists beyond the threshold and celebrate that heaven is all around us.” - Lisa Smartt, author, Words at the Threshold and Cante Bardo
“My parents taught my siblings and me to cultivate lifelong learning, which opened for us a gateway to curiosity, wonder, and a hunger for creative pursuits. Wake Up to Wonder taps into that process with key biblical components to finding contentment and joy in the simple, beautiful gifts God has placed all around us. It is possible never to experience a day of boredom in your life. Fulfillment and purpose are attainable, and Wake Up to Wonder shows us the path to reaching those goals.” - Mary Fairchild, author, editor, Stories of Calvary, LearnReligions.com, GotQuestions.org, RevelintheRubble.com
"Whitney Hopler brings the science of wonder and religious doctrine alive with her profound stories throughout this book. The book reaches beyond religion into the realm of spirituality and how awe experiences connect us to higher purposes that go beyond ourselves. Her provocative questions inspire and challenge us to think more deeply about concepts such as pursuing wonder, discovering awe through love, and turning away from our fears and toward our faith. Awe has the power to lift our perspective beyond our problems to where we can see how profoundly we're all connected in a wondrous human family, where we're meant to thrive together.”- Nance Lucas, Ph.D., executive director and chief well-being officer, George Mason University’s Center for the Advancement of Well-Being
"Awe is an integral part of a person’s holistic wellness and Whitney does a great job of conveying the importance of awe in her book, Wake Up to Wonder. I highly recommend this book to anyone who finds the study of happiness and well-being fascinating.” - Philip Wilkerson, Positive Philter podcast host, George Mason University’s well-being university committee member What books or articles have inspired you the most lately, and why? Connect with me and share your comments on Facebook or Twitter!